Sarah Rowe: An International Woman of Sport

For International Women’s Day we caught up with Mayo and Collingwood star Sarah Rowe who’s living the life of a professional athlete in Australia.  Exclusively for O’Neills Sarah talks 20x20, women’s sport on the rise and the absence of Coppers in Oz!


You coping with the lifestyle there ok?

The lifestyle is great, I’m not working over here, so I’m in the club every day, well five or six times a week anyway, using all the resources so it’s great.

We train Monday evenings, Wednesday evenings, Friday and Sunday and the other two days you’ve to get a gym session in. So quite similar here to home.

I go in to training about half three and don’t get home to about half ten at night. It’s a bit longer than at home, I suppose people work part-time and then train too, but the lifestyle is great.

It comes with its pressures. There’s a bit of pressure when you’re getting paid to play. I suppose there’s a different dynamic compared to LGFA but the pressure for performance is that bit greater. It’s different, but I really enjoy the lifestyle. I suppose in my time off I meet the girls, we go for lunch, we go to the beach.


The main difference you see in playing sport there and back home?

The main differences between playing back home? Very similar but more time consuming. Definitely more time consuming. You know, you look around Collingwood and there’s just offices all around the gym and the pitches & working in those offices are people working to help you be the best athlete you can be.

Making sure that the team is in the best place possible. One thing they really zone in on is people’s characters and the values of the club. They want you to be a certain way and they stand for the sort of character first. The attitude is, if you’ve a good character and you want to work hard, you can be part of the club. Things like that probably you don’t discuss in a team environment back home. About what sort of person they want you to be as an athlete.

Also you do a lot more video analysis, and a lot more on the team. The stats you get after a game, they’re very big on, they don’t lie. The coaches say every week if you play your role you will play the next week so for me in my role, I have three targets that I have to hit every week and if I hit them I play the next week and if I don’t my position will be up for grabs. I suppose the stats don’t lie and they’re big on that.

Also they have leadership groups and stuff so that’s another side that I’m learning about when I’m here. The facilities are obviously better. The men and the women can train together and have 24/7 access.

But you know as well,  it is a credit to where ladies football is at in Ireland and how far it has come when you see how well the girls are conditioned at home and how hard they work considering they all have jobs and everything, many of them full time jobs. It really is a credit to everyone at home

I’m just milking the full time sportswoman thing compared to being at home I don’t have to travel three hours to get to training. I just have to travel ten minutes. Things like that mean you look after your body that much better.


It’s International Women’s day. What’s the attitude to women’s sport there in Australia.

It  is quite similar to Ireland, it’s kinda on the way up. They’re to get greater numbers at games, trying to get broadcasters more involved, all our games are broadcast live on four or five channels, every game. There’s a lot of coverage but like in Ireland there’s a long way to go be the same level.

Theres a few big leaders over here and there’s a girl in our team called Sharni Layton who used to be a professional netball player and she’s one who’s really driving that over here. There is definitely room for improvement. Because AFLW is new, and only three years old I think spectators expect the standard to be a bit higher. But because they’re not full time athletes and they don’t have as many contact hours as they would like, I think people need to be a bit more patient with the standard.

In terms of women’s sports, Sports like netball, soccer and hockey are very well respected for women over here and AFLW is definitely on the way up for women. I believe that in the next few years it will definitely be the leading women’s sport in Australia. Its very similar to ladies football at home in terms of its rise.


You’re involved in 20x20 as ambassador. Is there good coverage for women in sport there?

20x20 has been huge! I suppose since you’re away from Ireland, you focus more and are maybe more aware of things going on at home, keeping up to date on Twitter & Facebook a lot more than at home. There we just hear through word of mouth, but I’m amazed, since I’ve been over here seeing so much coverage of what’s going on at home in women’s sport and I keep up to date.

In terms of results and trying to stream GAA it’s been better than it ever has. Fair play to 20x20 and Lidl its been great and I’m also finding out more about other women’s sports than ever before. They’ve been posting everything it’s great.


And how are you getting on with actually playing the game?

How am I getting on in the actual sport? It been great, there’s been good days there’s been bad days. Some days there are drastic improvements; some days I revert back to bad habits; some days I over think it; and other days I just go out and play.

I’ve really came to grips with it over the last maybe three or four weeks especially I suppose I’m just working on the basics and  trying to really understand the game.

I have my coaches plagued every day of the week because I want to be better but I’m really in the right place and I’ve so much help around me it makes my job so much easier so yea, I feel like I’ve adapted well and there’s always room for improvement.

But over the last few weeks I felt so much more comfortable and I don’t have to worry about the rules and the game plans now I get it, its almost second nature, whereas at the start even the vocabulary of the way they speak I wouldn’t understand basics. The coaches have been unbelievable and the girls have been such a great help to me. Every day is a school day.


And have you been able to adapt to the ball skills and different ball?

In terms of my ball skills they are quite transferable in terms of kicking. I kick with the middle of my foot rather than the inside or outside like I would if I was playing Gaelic, so that’s the major difference but I haven’t found it too hard to pick it up.

Obviously the shape of the ball and reading the bounce is different compared to a soccer ball or Gaelic ball with these type of balls  there is a tactic to read it but in the beginning the ball as bouncing all over the place, so that took time but I definitely have got more used to it and more comfortable with it over the last few weeks.


And socially, what’s the craic?

In terms of craic there hasn’t been too much of a social like, my social consists of going for brunch, going to the beach meeting up with the girls from the team they all come from different background, so really getting to know them and the people around the club. That’s who I socialize with, which has been great and a great experience to learn about their culture and what they’re all about.

Socially, well I haven’t been socializing like I would be Ireland. There’s been no sign of a Coppers over here so I’m keeping quite quiet lol. That comes with being a professional athlete unfortunately!


Sarah Rowe is an ambassador for 20x20 and also a brand ambassador for O’Neills. Thanks to Sarah for taking time out in Australia to talk to O’Neills.